Controversy broke out on Saturday when Telangana Police conducted raids at a Hyderabad-based IT firm's office and apparently picked up four employees for diverting voters' data from government's record.
Telangana’s ruling party Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of K Chandrashekar Rao and Andhra Pradesh’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chandrababu Naidu are locked in a bitter war of words over an alleged leak of voters’ data just ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Controversy broke out on Saturday when Telangana Police conducted raids at a Hyderabad-based IT firm’s office and apparently picked up four employees for diverting voters’ data from government’s record.
The action was initiated after police received a complaint from data analyst T Lokeswara Reddy who alleged the developer of TDP’s official app Seva Mitra App stole government’s welfare schemes beneficiaries data from the Andhra Pradesh government database. According to Reddy, the data was processed without consent of the state government to help TDP in the general election. Reddy alleged that company had stolen data of over 3.5 crore voters of Andhra Pradesh.
On Sunday, the Telangana High Court directed Telangana Police to produce four employees of IT Grids before it. IT Grids is a firm based in Hyderabad which provides IT solutions to the TDP. The court’s direction was issued by the court on a petition by an employee of IT Grids. The petitioner sought direction to the police to produce the employees allegedly picked up during raids conducted on the company’s office on Saturday.
During the raids, the police had also seized laptops, hard disks and some other material. On Monday, an FIR was also filed against IT Grids based on the complaint received by police. The FIR was lodged on the charges of criminal conspiracy and theft, cheating and violation of IT Act.
Speaking later, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said that he will go to any extent to protect his self-respect. Naidu alleged that he will not keep quiet and accused TRS government of stealing data related to his state and providing it to YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy. Naidu said that he will retaliate soon in a fitting manner.
He even claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao and Jaganmohan Reddy were working together in a conspiracy to damage the TDP. Naidu wondered how Telangana can register a case about Andhra Pradesh data on a complaint by some individual.
“If anybody is stealing our government data, will Hyderabad police protect it,” he asked.
The TRS, on the other hand, has challenged TDP to face probe. Party’s working president KT Rama Rao said that Naidu and his son and IT Minister Nara Lokesh have been caught red-handed and asked the duo to face police and come clean if they claim charges against them are baseless.
The violation of data could have serious ramification on the conduct of the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly polls in the state. The leaked data will help the TDP identify its voters and chalk out its strategy accordingly to reach to the mass and convert it into numbers in the elections.
Meanwhile, the TDP on Tuesday again issued a statement alleging that the charges are politically motivated and baseless. The party said that raids by Telangana police at companies in Hyderabad are nothing but a tactic of TRS and PM Modi and vowed to fight back.
“It is unfortunate that TRS has made it a personal agenda to attack companies serving TDP. This is motivated, and the future of these companies have been jeopardized to YCP and TRS conspiracy. Such heinous acts will not get unnoticed,” it said.
The statement added that the latest developments have caused massive damage to the party’s reputation.
“We have come across media reports on data leaks. Opposition and parties supporting opposition have used force and unauthorised means to spread misinformation. This has caused a lot of damage to the reputation to our party that has been operating over 37 years,” it added.